The Ottumwa Courier

July 26, 2013

'Homemade bomb' found in Blakesburg library drop box

Courier staff writer

---- — BLAKESBURG — Law enforcement is looking for information on someone who threw an explosive device in the Blakesburg Public Library's book drop box.

Librarian Rebecca Brittain said "a homemade bomb" was found in the library's book drop box on Wednesday, though she could not comment further without the library board's approval.

Wapello County Sheriff's deputies responded at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to the library, located at 109 E. Cass St. in Blakesburg.

The explosion was created by pressure building up from a chemical reaction inside the bottle, said Chief Deputy Don Phillips.

"This one here is probably an acid, like a muriatic [hydrochloric] acid or drain cleaner, and aluminum foil," he said. "The chemical reaction in there causes pressure, which expands the plastic bottle — this was in a Gatorade bottle — and it explodes."

But he doesn't want the public to think this explosion was just a childish, funny prank.

"These are dangerous," he said. "With the acid inside this bottle and that spraying about from the pressure and explosion, someone could get acid burns or it could get in their eyes. If it's a significant amount of acid, they could potentially get seriously injured."

Thankfully, no one was injured and the device had exploded by the time staff opened up the drop box Wednesday morning.

It's unknown when the device was thrown in the drop box or who did it, but the sheriff's office and the Iowa State Fire Marshal's Office are asking anyone with information to call the sheriff's office at 641-684-4350.

Anyone arrested in the case could be hit with a charge of possession of an explosive or incendiary device. There was also less than $100 damage to the drop box and books inside.